Time for a Proper Bet...
Anyway, having this magnificent obsession means I follow the Coca-Cola Championship with an almost unhealthy interest. Having watched altogether too many matches this year I have come to the conclusion Wigan are quite comfortably the best team in this section. They have been through a slightly sticky spell of late it must be admitted, but I was at Loftus Road when the R's beat them and they really were outstanding. They should have been at least 3 up at half time and gone on to stuff us. From reports they were unlucky not to beat both Leicester and Reading on their last two starts.
They have a lethal (although admittedly mis-firing at present) strikeforce of Ellington and Roberts. A great midfield, featuring the best player in the division, Bullard. And a very solid back defence.
They now have a very kind schedule for the next six weeks. They play on one of their promotion challengers in that time: Ipswich, who I believe are the least likely of the current top 4 to reach automatic promotion. They have to face Rotherham, Gillingham, Wolves and Preston in the coming weeks. Hardly a testing time, especially when other promotion challengers are going to clash against each other regularly.
Now is the time to back them. And for once, I'm having a "proper" bet. I really am very confident they will win this section.
100pts Wigan to win the Championship (5/2 Stan James)
Those bookie fellows are forcing my hand on the NFL. They are betting well overbroke on the place portion of their each way terms on the NFC teams. This will disappear shortly as I notice 3 bookmakers have moved to the dreaded 1/3 1,2 each way terms this week. And as bookmakers are lemmings, I expect the others to follow suit next week. So, now is the time to step in.
But, who to back? The AFC is much the stronger conference, and as such should be avoided for betting purposes. The NFC is much easier. I couldn't argue with anyone plunging on Philadelphia each way at 3/1. They have looked very impressive for much of the year and continue to roll along strongly. However, the nagging doubt remains they failed in playoffs for the last 3 years when NFC favourites. Does McNabb choke in the big game? The other options are spotty at best. Atlanta, St Louis and Seattle all have great talents levels but are woefully inconsistant. Minnesota are my pick. They have a marginally easier schedule than Green Bay in their division and if they win the NFC North they should avoid Philly until the conference finals. They have a stellar offence with Culpepper outstanding and Moss the possibly the best WR in NFL history. They also have a very strong Offensive line. The defense which has been shocking in recent seasons certainly looked improved against Jax last week. At 20/1 they are certainly each way value.
10pts Each Way Minnesota for the Superbowl (20/1 BlueSq, Stan James)
A quick look at the other bets I've mentioned earlier:
Andy Johnson has single handedly propelled Crystal Palace past West Brom and up the Premiership table. Will it last? I hope not. I still believe WBA are the more complete team, but when both teams are only expected to gather about 30 points all season 3 points is a bit of a hurdle to overcome.
Plymouth are so infuriating they have made me tear my hair out. They beat Wigan comfortably, yet lose to Coventry a few days later. I've almost thrown my ante post voucher away, but don't discount them going on a hot streak and pushing for the playoffs just yet. The buy of the field which I hoped was a very solid investment is looking a bit dodgy. Thank God the R's are still punching away. Burnley, Stoke, Watford and Preston are all there or thereabouts. Hopefully at least one of the field will make the playoffs at least. West Ham have struggled to match Sporting's estimation of them as I hoped. They have been on a poor run recently and have some tough games looming. They have dropped to 74.5-76 and I think they will drop a little more yet. Hold tight.
Bournemouths dip in form has coincided with the absence of prolific striker James Hayter. As long as they stay in touch while he's out I'm confident they can still win automatic promotion.
Detroit despite a few scares early on have performed as badly as I hoped. They have lost 5 straight and look booked for third. Chicago have just signed two new QBs so a chance remains the Lions might come last and make up 0. A nice freeroll whatever!